Tag Archives: physical attractiveness

The news in numbers 1: Female gazing

Released, this week, from my usual 9 to 5 toil, I’ve had time to devote myself to something far less consequential: an investigation into the abundance or otherwise of hawt men in the Australian online media landscape! Today, I am excited to unveil the results of my miniature study.

I’m going to give my geek free reign on this one, so your three options are to:

  1. get your geek on too;
  2. forgive me and endure; or
  3. skip straight to ‘Results’

Here we go!

Aim

To assess the extent to which major Australian news websites show attractive men on their homepages.

Rationale

While images of hot women are hard to avoid modern Australia, images of hot men appear to be a scarcer commodity. This makes people who are attracted to hot men sad. By determining which online news site tends to feature the most hot men, my project will empower hot-men-attracted persons to navigate the media landscape in the most pleasurable way.

Research question

How many photographs of attractive men are displayed on the homepages of major Australian news sources?

(entirely skippable section on) Methodology

Daily, over the period 6 June to 11 June, I visited the homepages of four major Australian online news sources: The Age, The Australian, the Herald Sun and ABC News. Each visit took place in the early afternoon.

On each visit I classified each photograph on the main site as either:

  • attractive woman
  • not-so-attractive woman
  • attractive man
  • not-so-attractive man
  • other.

I counted totals for each and entered them into a spreadsheet. At the end of the week I calculated some daily averages and made some pretty stacked column graphs – my favourite!

So what is a physically attractive man and how is he different from a not-so-attractive man? How do we operationalise this concept? Obviously, hotness is subjective, and, recognising this, I didn’t go through measuring the moistness in my panties or anything. Instead, I made most classifications based on the way the person was presented, their occupation and their reason for being in the news. For example, a photograph of a politician, columnist or similar public figure was classified as not-so-attractive, unless the related article actually focused on their attractiveness, or if their attractiveness was really played up in the photo, or if they just happened to be undeniably super-hot. For example, Andrew Bolt = not-so-attractive, Fairfax blogger Katherine Feeney giving you a seductive sideways glance = attractive.

A photograph of a young celebrity or entertainer was classified as attractive by virtue of profession and presentation, rather than my own view of their hotttt level. The exception to this is was the celebrity is generally considered unattractive, but somehow still managed to get famous. For example, in a group photograph of tv show hosts Dannii Minogue, Kyle Sandilands and Brian McFadden, Dannii and Brian were counted as ‘attractive’ but Kyle was not. Come now, this is entirely fair.

Athletes and sporting figures with their tight, glistening bodies were classified as attractive unless they are most definitely not so. This was pretty generous of me, I thought, and really upped the count of attractive men, perhaps unfairly.

Where a photograph featured more than one person and each was clearly visible and an equal focus of the photo, I counted each of the people separately.

Photographs of groups of ordinary or hard-to-see people and of children, along with non-photographic images (cartoons, graphs, etc.) were classified as “other”. I counted large, medium and small photographs, including those in automatic slide rotators, but not teeny-tiny thumbnails or photographs in advertisements. Where the exact same photo appeared more than once on the homepage, I counted it only once.

Results!

On all of the websites, there were more photographs of men than women (Table 1). Perhaps this is a good sign for hetrosexual ladies eager for visual stimulation! Then again, perhaps not! We shall not jump to conclusions.

Table 1: Average photographs of men and women

The ABC led the pack in display of the male form, with a daily average of 13.75 photos of men on its homepage (74% of people-pictures). With 73% men, the Australian also did well on this measure, while delivering a higher total number of pictures of men (average of 17). The Age was disturbingly egalitarian, with nearly half of all people in photographs being of the female variety. Boo!

Now let’s dig a little deeper. Figure 1 below shows the average proportions of hot and not-so-hot men and women on each of the homepages.

Figure 1: Average proportion of hot and not-so-hot men and women

Figure 1 shows that The Australian got our hopes up only to dash them cruelly. Despite their admirable focus on men, a paltry 1.4 of them were hunky – a ratio of not-so-hot to hot of around 11 to 1! The ABC, on the other hand, put in a decent effort with hot men representing a respectable 19% of all people photographed.

The clear winner, though, is the Herald Sun. The Herald Sun averaged 7.6 hot men per day, which was, incredibly, exactly equal to the average number of hot women displayed. Even though The Age had more hot men in total (9.4), one is forced to wade through many, many pictures of unbearably cute women to find them. One caveat, however: many of the Herald Sun’s physically attractive men are footballers or similar, which might not be your thing.

Discussion

Like all the best studies, this one did not add to human knowledge but simply confirmed what everyone knew already. Pictures of pretty women are everywhere, and pictures of pretty men are not. For those of us who like to look at hot men, though, there is a surprising oasis in the media desert: the Herald Sun. The very worst thing you can do as a lover of male beauty is to peruse The Australian or the ABC.

As well as providing a basis for newsmedia decision-making, the study sheds some light which types of people are likely to become famous, in the news. If you are woman who is neither super hot nor Our Nation’s Leader, you are not very likely to get your face in the paper. Sorry! Best focus on baking or something like that, rather than fame. If you are a not-so-attractive man, but you can write above a fifth-grade level and enjoy kicking poor people in the teeth, you should probably get in touch with The Australian as they may have an opening for an opinion columnist.

Limitations

Like all research, this project had its limitations. Most importantly, alone, the results of this study may not provide sufficient information for media consumption decision-making. You might wish to take other factors into account when deciding what news source to rely on, such as journalistic quality, ease of navigation, and whether Andrew Bolt is likely to make you lose your breakfast.

While I tried to judge general attractiveness, I am human, and I’m sorry, I just don’t think Rafael Nadal is anywhere near so hot as Bear Grylls. You may disagree.

Also, I was not all that careful in my counting. Slide rotators, in particular, are really annoying to look at, so I probably fucked up a bit with those. Whoops.

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Filed under In the news, Man Candy, Research